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Kosovo

Kosovo (Albanian: Kosova, Serbian: Kосово и Метохија, Kosovo i Metohija) is a largely mountainous country in South Eastern Europe. Albania lies to the west, Montenegro to the northwest, Macedonia to the south, and Serbia to the northeast.

Kosovo is the youngest country in Europe, having declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. It is recognised by about half of the countries around the world, despite heavy opposition from Serbia, which continues to consider Kosovo an illegitimately separated province. The majority of the population is Kosovar Albanian and Muslim (though largely secular), with minorities including Serbs, Bosniaks, Turks and Roma.

Kosovo is also young in terms of average age of population, with more than 70 percent of its population under the age of 35.

Regions

Cities

Other destinations

  • 1 Brod
  • 2 Rugova Gorge

Understand

History

History in Kosovo has been highly politicized and is wrapped up with the histories of its Balkan neighbors.

Control of Kosovo changed hands many times in the medieval period, passing variously from being part of the Bulgarian Empire, Byzantine Empire and the Serbian Empire. From the 15th century Kosovo was part of the Ottoman Empire for almost 500 years, before the empire collapsed at the beginning of the 20th century. Wars and border disputes continued as Kosovo became part of the Kingdom of Serbia, which expanded into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes at the end of World War I, and changed its name to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929.

At the end of World War II, and the defeat of the invading Axis powers by socialist partisans, Kosovo became an Autonomous Province in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, led by Josip Bros Tito.

After Tito's death in 1980, and the rise of nationalism throughout Yugoslavia, Kosovo was stripped of its autonomous status at the end of the '80s by the regime of autocratic leader Slobodan Milosevic. With Yugoslavia breaking apart, Kosovo's Albanians were stripped of many of their rights during a decade of repression during the 1990s, which ultimately ended in the war of 1998-99, as Kosovar Albanians stood up against the Serbian regime to fight for their liberation. A bombing campaign against Serbian military targets brought the war to an end in June 1999, and led to a period in which Kosovo was administered by the United Nations.

On February 17, 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, and was quickly recognized by many world powers, including the United States and most member states of the European Union. However Serbia continues to refute Kosovo's independent status. It is also not a member of the United Nations as its independence is not recognised by Russia and China, both of whom have used their veto power on the Security Council to block any UN recognition of Kosovo. Domestically, while most ethnic Albanians support Kosovo's independence, most ethnic Serbs do not and still consider Kosovo to be a part of Serbia.

Climate

The climate is continental, with very warm summers and cold and snowy winters.

Religion

Kosovo is a multi-ethnic, secular state whose population practices a diverse selection of religions. The majority Albanian population is mainly Muslim, though with a significant catholic minority. Kosovo's Bosniak, Gorani and Turkish communities are also predominantly Muslim, while Kosovar Serbs tend to practice Serbian Orthodox Christianity.

Get in

Citizens of countries such as Albania, Australia, Canada, the European Union, CIS, Lebanon, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and Turkey do not need a visa, but if you are planning to stay in Kosovo for more than 90 days you should, as in any other Balkan country, register at the Police Department for the Registration of Foreigners. This is next to the central police station in Pristina. Citizens of other countries that have significantly contributed to the rebuilding of the Kosovo probably also do not need visas either, although Kosovo is starting to implement a stricter visa regime. The 90-day rule for the registration of foreigners applies to everybody [1].

You can enter Kosovo through the northern border with Serbia through Kosovska Mitrovica or near Pristina. There are bus connections from Belgrade and Nis to Pristina and Prizren and from all the major towns in Serbia to the northern parts. The most used transport route is through the Republic of Macedonia and Pristina airport. Skopje is only one and a half hour from the capital city of Kosovo, Pristina. Travelling from Pristina to any other city of Kosovo does not take longer than an hour and a half. For instance, from Pristina to Prizren takes 45 minutes. Travelling to Peja takes a hour and a half.

By plane

  • Pristina International Airport (PRN IATA). Several European airlines have started to offer direct flights from their hubs to the Pristina International Airport. Examples are easyJet, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Eurowings, Jetairfly, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airlines, SWISS, Edelweiss Air, Croatia Airlines and Austrian Airlines. Adria Airways has a regional hub in Pristina. During the summer, several additional charter flights are available for travellers.

By bus

From Montenegro, you can enter through Rozaje to Peja/Pec (approximately 2.0 hours).

From Macedonia (Skopje), you can take a bus to Pristina (less than 1.5 h)

There is a border crossing in the Presevo Valley in Serbia.

There are a couple companies offering buses from Istanbul via Skopje.

From Albania, you can enter through Prizren on a nice new road; gone are the days of the "nightmare" 10-hour mountain ride. The trip from Tirane costs 10€ and takes less than 4 hours, with two stops.

By train

There are also trains crossing the Kosovo border. Two daily services connects Kraljevo in Serbia with all towns on the Leshak, Fushë Kosovë (Kosovo Polje). Connections from Beograd are possible but includes a long stay between train at Kraljevo, thus bringing the journey to more than 12 hours for 399 km. This service has vanished from Kosovo Railways' timetable but it is reported that Serbian Railways run a twice daily service from Zvecan (just after Mitrovica) all the way to Kraljevo. Check their homepage for details. No passenger trains run between Fushe Kovove/Kosovo Polje – Mitrovica – Zvecan.

Since March 1, 2006, an identical service, twice daily, has run from Skopje in Macedonia to Pristina in Kosovo. It is hard to find timings for these trains. Trains are very slow and convey second class only, but they give the opportunity to see a lot of the country and are good value at approximately €4 each way.

This service has been reduced to once daily, leaving Pristina at 7.10, arriving in Skopje at 09.52 (return leaving Skopje at 16:35). The timetable is available at the Kosovo Railways website.

By car

To enter Kosovo, the validity and acceptance of the International Motor Insurance Card is in doubt. At the border you will need to pay for separate insurance, which will cover you throughout Kosovo for two weeks. Costs depend on the vehicle but two weeks' cover is usually under €20. Ensure also that you have your vehicle registration and a power of attorney from the owner if the car is not yours. During the summer holidays in Germany and Switzerland expect long queues at the border crossing in Merdare (up to 3 hours).

Get around

By bus

The best way to travel intercity in Kosovo is by bus. The buses are relatively cheap and comfortable (for example from Pristina to Peja is €4), with discounts available for students. Payment is usually made on the bus to a representative of the bus company coming around once the journey has started - you may or may not receive a physical ticket, depending on the company.

Between some cities you may also have the option of mini-vans, running from nearby the main bus station. These leave when full and are usually a similar price to the regular buses.

By train

There are two daily trains from Pristina to Peja which are a comfortable way to make this journey (€3)

By car

Major construction of highways in recent years has cut travel times between major cities significantly, and more highways are being built and improved.

Driving in Kosovo, particularly in cities, can be a little stressful to begin with, and it can be best to go in with the attitude of "expect the unexpected." Pedestrians crossing in front of you unexpectedly, cyclists coming towards you on the wrong side of the road, and potholes appearing out of nowhere are all familiar sights, as are just-in-time overtaking maneuvers and swerving lane-changes, while roundabouts bring with them their own unique customs. That being said, you are likely to quickly get used to it and as long as you stay alert - and look out for sudden changes in road surfaces - you should be fine!

Parking can be a challenge, particularly in Pristina and major cities, but there are plenty of informal car parks (at around 1-2 euros for the day), where your vehicle should be safe. Lots of locals choose to park up at the side of the road, on pavements, or wherever there are a few square meters, although the police have begun to remove illegally parked vehicles in some areas.

Road signs and place names usually appear in both Albanian and Serbian, although it is not uncommon for the minority language to be scratched out - a useful indication of the majority population of the area you're in.

By taxi

It is best to use registered taxis as they have fixed prices and are metered. Registered taxis are clearly marked with a company name and phone number printed on the vehicle. Unregistered taxis are usually cars with a yellow taxi sign affixed to the roof, they are safe, but the price is entirely at the driver's discretion. For more information on taxi companies see the pages for individual cities.

Talk

Most people in Kosovo speak Albanian, while in Serb-majority areas, such as the north of the country, Serbian is spoken - both are official languages and appear on road signs, etc. Many older Kosovar Albanians will understand Serbian, although it may result in a hostile reaction if you try to speak Serbian to them.

Young people, particularly in the major cities such as Prishtina and Prizren, are likely to understand English, whereas the older generation are more likely to understand German. Some older people are able to speak Russian, as it was compulsory in schools during the communist era, although it may not be received well among the Albanian population due to its apparent similarity with Serbian.

Turkish can be useful, and the Turkish minority speaks both Turkish and Albanian.

See

  • 1 Prishtina. is the capital city of Kosovo. Places that should be visited in Pristina is the quarter near the National Museum of Kosova. In addition to visiting the museum where a lot of archaeological artifacts are presented, in both ways when you exit, you see the old mosques from the Ottoman Empire era.
  • Prizren. The most historical city in Kosovo. It has plenty of examples of beautiful Islamic architecture.
  • 3 Mirusha Waterfalls (Ujëvarat e Mirushës) (Take the Prishtina - Gjakova bus and ask to be dropped off at Ujëvarat e Mirushës then walk ~3 km inland.). Located between Prishtina and Gjakova, it is a nice hike ending in a cascade of 16 waterfalls and visible stone strata. On the way back stop at the restaurant near the road for fish and relaxation.
  • 4 Waterfall of the Drini River (Radavc) (Located north of Peja behind the Berdynaj village). During the summer, this place is fantastic, and the road to the river is an amazing, narrow road with wires on one side and the river on the other; this is a great part of Kosovo.
  • 5 The Pec Patriarchy (The Peć patriarchy lies 2 km to the north west of the Peja (Pec) city center.). This location was the seat of the Patriarchy of the Serbian Orthodox Church starting in 1302 and for many Serbs is considered to be of extreme national importance. All of the Serbs who lived in Peja have either left or been forced to do so by Albanian nationalists leaving the Patriarchy to be heavily guarded by NATO troops, with a few remaining clergy. It is a beautiful monastery with many spectacular paintings. If you go, dress conservatively.
  • 6 Rugova Gorge (Rugova gorge is also to the northwest of Peja, can be found by following the same road that leads to the Pec Patriarchy. Just drive further.). The canyon has extremely steep walls reaching possibly up to 300 meters.
  • Gjakova Old Bazaar. A very beautiful old "shopping center" from 17th century. It was burned down during the war in 1999 and has been reconstructed. Also in the center of the bazaar is located an old mosque that was built in the 15th century. It is one of the rarest of its kind. An architectural and cultural complex, with a length of 1 km, including a space of about 35,000m2, it holds a large number of crafts-work shops. free.
  • 8 The Mitrovica Bridge. An interesting symbol of the division of the population in Kosovo. This bridge is the dividing line between Serbs and Albanians in Mitrovica. It will almost always be safe to approach the bridge and look at it.
  • 9 Brezovica Ski Centre. Old infrastructure but great slopes, located in Southern Kosova. Go there from Prizren or from Prishtina through Ferizaj.
  • 10 Novobrdo. In Latin documents written as Novaberd, Novus Mons or Novamonte; and in Saxon miners' documents as Nyeuberghe) was mentioned in the historical documents as early as 1326. Novo Brdo was a metropolis at the time, with a huge medieval fortress built on the top of an extinct volcano cone, the remains of which can be visited today, and residential sections sprawling all around. In the outer wall of the fortress, a large cross is visible, built into the stones. The castle, or fortress, was thought at one point to have dated back to the Byzantine Empire.
  • 11 Ulpiana (from Prishtina, head towards Gracanica, make a right downtown towards Ulpiana). One of the oldest cities in the Balkan peninsula, is 20–30 minutes away from Pristina towards Gjilan. It was re-constructed by Justinian I emperior.

Medieval monuments

A UNESCO World Heritage listing consisting of four religious edifices:

  • Gračanica Monastery near Prishtina – One of the most beautiful examples of Serbian medieval (14th c.) ecclesiastical architecture. This monastery was built by the Serbian king Milutin in the Serbo-Byzantine style, reportedly its shape being inspired by a cloud. It is noted for its frescoes, and being the only medieval Serbian monastery found in an urban setting complete with an old school and archives.
  • Decani Monastery in western Kosovo – One of the most important monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo. It is famous for its elegant and peculiar architecture. As an orthodox monastery from the 13th century, it successfully mixes western and eastern church building elements to form a particular hybrid style only known on the territory of old Serbia. This monastery is particularly noted for some of the world's finest medieval frescoes adorning its walls.
  • Monastery of the Patriarchate of Peć in Peja, northwestern Kosovo.
  • Our Lady of Ljeviš – in Prizren, southern Kosovo.

Do

Though Kosovo is not yet well known for its tourism, this is changing rapidly and definitely has something to offer for every type of traveler. Surrounded by high mountains and still coming into its statehood, Kosovo is easily accessible in many aspects and one of the cheapest European countries to travel. With cross-border hiking trails like the Via Dinarica and Peaks of the Balkans bringing an influx of new visitors to this small country that can be traversed in a day, but can take years to fully absorb, now is the perfect time to discover the potential of this once-unknown region. Exploring Kosovo's rural areas you will find a land rich in stunning scenery, cultural heritage and exceptional hospitality. Travelers can enjoy hiking over the jagged Sharri, Pastrik and Accursed Mountains, ski pristine and less-trodden slopes in Brezovica, appreciate the well-preserved Ottoman architecture of Prizren, sample raki or homemade wine around Rahovec, visit a traditional stone kulla in Junik or Drenoc, dive into the coffee-drinking culture in one of Prishtina’s many wonderful cafés, or explore both Islam and Orthodox Christianity at beautiful monasteries and mosques (sometimes found side by side) around the country. With a country full of lively cafés and wide-ranging restaurants, a thriving outdoor adventure scene, the warmest locals you can imagine and some of the cheapest prices on the continent, Kosovo definitely deserves the attention not only of the intrepid traveler, but of anyone looking to avoid the tourist traps of Western Europe.

Buy

Money

Kosovo uses the euro, like several other European countries. One euro is divided into 100 cents. The official symbol for the euro is €, and its ISO code is EUR. There is no official symbol for the cent.

All banknotes and coins of this common currency are legal tender within all the countries, except that low-denomination coins (one and two cent) are phased out in some of them. The banknotes look the same across countries, while coins have a standard common design on one side and a national country-specific design on the other. The latter side is also used for different designs of commemorative coins. The design on the national side does not affect the use of the coin.

In Serbian-majority municipalities

The Serbian dinar is used in the four Serbian-majority municipalities in northern Kosovo and in Gracanica and Strpce. Exchange offices are found almost everywhere. Note that in these locations while euros are accepted generally, all prices are listed in dinar.

Souvenirs

For those seeking a souvenir to take back with them from Kosovo, there are many options available: From fine handcrafted Filigree silver to traditional Albanian wool hats (a plis) and musical instruments (the stringed ciftelia). Local food and drink specialties to take home could include honey, raki, a high strength alcohol distilled from fruit, ajvar, a pepper based spread or feferona, spicy local peppers.

Tipping

In Kosovo generally tipping is not expected from locals, but as it is done by foreigners, it is welcome. In more upmarket venues it might be more likely for tipping to be expected. In taxis you can tip to the nearest euro or half euro.

Eat

Best restaurants to eat at are those that are located in the villages near by big cities; they tend to have the best meat dishes and the best sea food. Trout, seabass and salmon fish are very common and popular and are kept fresh in their pools and are nearly always fried when you order. Prices are pretty average and, for some European countries consider, cheap.

Lots of great burek (baked pastry stuffed with cheese, meat or spinach). Try the drinkable yogurt (Ayran)—it's superb. Lots of kebabs and other Ottoman Turkish style food.

As far as you are in an Albanian territory, you could try Albanian food as well. Fli, a very good pastry, can be found in different traditional restaurants.

At the bakery, you can buy a fantastic loaf of bread for under €1.

The grocery stores have a plentiful supply of Western food.

Drink

Alcoholic:

Beer brewed in Peja and named after the city of its origin can be found across the country. Peja Premium is a slightly stronger beer from the same brewery but less widely available. Sabaja is the second beer in Kosovo. It is a home brew beer and it's ale (not pilsner). It is mostly found in Pristina but maybe also in different cities. Other local beers include Pristina and Grembeer.

Kosova was very known for wine production. There are a lot of vineyards Kosovo's south west, with Stonecastle one of the larger wine producers. Even though the Albanians are predominantly of Muslim heritage, attitudes to drinking are quite liberal.

Raki is another alcoholic beverage in Kosova. It is made from local fruits (the most common is from grape, with plum, pear and quince all also regularly available) and can be best described as a hard liquor similar to vodka.


Non-Alcoholic:

Yogurt/Ayran is a common local drink and is often consumed with pastry based foods.

Boza is also another common sweet drink made from cornflour and often drank with cakes and pastries.

Local company Frutomania produce 100% natural juices, alongside traditional fruit drinks like limonata (from lemons) and boronica (from blueberries)

Sleep

Accommodation in Kosovo can be expensive in hotels, but in PristinaPrizren and Gjakova in particular, cheap accommodation (hostels or apartments) are very easy to find.

Basically you can find:

  • Apartments
  • Hostels
  • Small hotels (motels)
  • Two and three star hotels (more common)
  • At least two five star hotels in Pristina

Guesthouses are also dotted around throughout the country, offering inexpensive alternatives.

Stay safe

There are pretty much no physical or criminal dangers you need to worry about; people in general — both Albanians and Serbs — are extremely friendly and hospitable to tourists. Since the end of the war, more than 200,000 international workers from over the world have come to aid the rebuilding and peace effort in the country and local people are very used to people from outside and very friendly towards them.

Don't let the politics stop you from visiting; tensions have risen on a few occasions in the past decade, but nearly all have been in the divided city of Mitrovica in the north of the country and with a more than 10,000-person NATO peacekeeping force and a large international police force, you are very safe from pretty much everything and the chance of a full out conflict is very low with such international supervision and even if one is to occur, all foreigners would be evacuated within 48 hours. You will most likely find peacekeeping soldiers from your own country to help you if you need it.

Like in much of the Balkans, land mines were heavily used during the Yugoslav wars, although you are extremely unlikely to encounter them in any way today. Mines were a major problem in the country in the first four years after the war, and though some mines still exist, they are generally in remote areas and have well-marked signs advising not to enter a certain space. Most of the mined areas are places where conflict took place (rural Central Kosovo and the Kosovo–Albania border region). It's very safe to go hiking and camping — just ask before you do in order to make sure it's not an area that may still have mines, but most hiking and camping takes place in areas where the war did not occur, like the Sharri mountains, where there is a ski and camping resort.

It is best to use registered taxi companies as they provide fixed prices measured through a meter. Unlicensed taxis are safe but the price is completely down to the driver's discretion.

As with the region as a whole, homophobia is fairly widespread and public displays of affection are almost non-existent.

Connect

You can buy a local sim card for 3 EUR, with the two major carriers being Vala and Ipko. You need to provide an ID (passport) and register.

Most bars, cafes and restaurants have a free WiFi connection that customers can use.

Stay healthy

It is possible for foreigners to obtain treatment at the public hospital in Pristina (staff from your accommodation may come in handy as translators). However, the state of the hospital is far from ideal: The toilets have no soap, infusions are hanging from improvised stands. Kosovo has no public health insurance system and you will be required to pay your bill in cash. A visit to the doctor and a few pills from the pharmacy will cost you around 20 €. If you know what you need you may visit the pharmacy directly as no prescription is needed.

Go next

Kosovo has easy access to destinations in neighboring countries such as Skopje, Macedonia, Northeastern Albania and North Montenegrin Mountains.

There are flights from Pristina International Airport to Frankfurt, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Hannover, Munich, Stuttgart, Geneva, Zurich, Vienna, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Budapest, Ljubljana, Istanbul and London.

There are direct bus links to major cities in Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Albania, Turkey, Macedonia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia.

Note that if you plan to go to Russia after Kosovo, you may encounter a bit of trouble entering the country as Russia still considers the declaration of independence of Kosovo to be illegal.


Kosovo (Bradt Travel Guide)

Gail Warrander

This new fully updated 3rd edition of Bradt's Kosovo is the only full-length English guidebook to this land rich in cultural heritage, generous hospitality and stunning scenery which is celebrating its 10th anniversary of unilateral independence from Serbia. Updated by two resident tourism experts, this new edition is an ideal companion, offering maps, contacts and detailed information not easily accessible online, insider knowledge of one of Europe's last unspoiled destinations, and comprehensive detail on sites, attractions and practical information.What was once a hub for adventurous backpackers and international organizations has become an outdoor adventure destination in its own right with a compelling buzz thanks in part to a vibrant young population: the average age here is 26. Mega-hiking trails like the Via Dinarica and Peaks of the Balkans have brought attention to the country's unmatched scenery and multitude of 2,500+ meter peaks. New via ferratas – climbing routes – appeal to the adventurous set, while newly restored archaeological sites offer a haven for history buffs. This third edition contains a wealth of new tour operators and fully updated maps to key cities and regions that make it easier than ever to explore Europe's youngest country.Ringed by high mountains and recovering from a turbulent past, Kosovo is enjoying a tourism renaissance welcoming people from around the world. American visitor numbers tripled in five years and American flags are displayed prominently throughout the country, while Prishtina marks recent historic connections with roads and a statue to Bill Clinton and George Bush. Following this guide, visitors can ski pristine snowfields and hike saw-toothed mountains, explore the ebb and flow of Islam and of Orthodox Christianity at beautiful shrines such as Gracanica Monastery or Prizren's Sinan Pasha Mosque, sample raki at one of the vineyards, visit a traditional stone kulla, and be initiated into Prishtina's coffee-drinking culture. Bradt's Kosovo caters for all travelers. With detailed descriptions of the country's lively cafés and wide-ranging restaurants, as well as the thriving outdoor adventure scene, plus accommodation to suit all budgets, this new edition is ideal for tourists, NGOs and long-term visitors.

The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo

Paula Huntley

A moving testimony to the power of literature to bring people together in even the most difficult of circumstances.In the spring of 1999, the world watched as more than 800,000 Kosovo Albanians poured over Kosovo's borders, bringing with them stories of torture, rape, and massacre. One year later, Paula Huntley's husband signed on with the American Bar Association to help build a modern legal system in this broken country, and she reluctantly agreed to accompany him. Deeply uncertain as to how she might be of any service in a country that had seen such violence and hatred, Huntley found a position teaching English as a Second Language to a group of Kosovo Albanians in Prishtina.A war story, a teacher's story, but most of all a story of hope, The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo is the journal Hunt-ley kept in scattered notebooks or on her laptop over the eight months that she lived and worked in Kosovo. When Huntley asked her students if they would like to form an American-style "book club," they jumped at the idea. After stumbling upon a stray English-language copy of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, Huntley proposed it as the club's first selection. The simple fable touched all the students deeply, and the club rapidly became a forum in which they could discuss both the terrors of their past and their dreams for the future.The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo is a compelling tribute to the resilience of the human spirit.

Deployment Kosovo

Shawn Hendricks

In 1999, Serbia attacked Kosovo. Genocide of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians was the Serbian military's goal. By the time I deployed there, KFOR (Kosovo FORce - coalition NATO peacekeepers) had brought peace. I spent my free time exploring. Deployment Kosovo is a snapshot in time of Kosovo and the greater Balkan Peninsula, related in the order in which events transpired. This edition includes very few low-resolution photos. An unpublished photo-rich edition exists with an average of more than one photo per single-spaced 8.5x11 inch page. The longer format is over six hundred pages in length. In Word format, the larger work is 2.66 Gigabytes in size.Four and a half stars.http://books.lisisoft.com/online-books/deployment-kosovo.html

The Peaks of the Balkans Trail: Through Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo (Cicerone Trekking)

Rudolf Abraham

This guide describes the Peaks of the Balkans Trail, a 192km circular route through the spectacularly wild and rugged borderlands of Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo in Europe, with around a third of the trek lying in each country. Developed to promote sustainable local tourism and transcend political borders, it winds its way through the spectacular scenery of the Prokletije mountains, taking in high passes and remote valleys. Since its launch, the trail's popularity has continued to rise: however, despite increasing visitor numbers, the area – off-limits to foreigners until comparatively recently – remains underdeveloped and unspoilt.

The route can be hiked in around two weeks: it is presented in 10 daily stages and the guide also includes suggestions for excursions to bag neighbouring peaks and visit local sites of interest. While a moderate level of fitness is assumed, the walking itself is not difficult and makes use of existing paths and tracks. Food and accommodation are offered in traditional guesthouses in villages that often feel like somewhere time forgot.

Offering comprehensive advice on travel, permits and safety and details of local facilities, services and accommodation, the guide contains all the information needed to plan a successful trip. Clear route description is illustrated with 1:50,000 mapping, and a short summary of the terrain and any particular difficulties is given at the beginning of each stage. Background information on geology, geography and history is also provided, as well as a useful glossary of words and phrases in Montenegrin and Albanian.

Catholic Kosovo: A Visitor's Guide to Her People, Churches, Historical Sites, and Her 1,900 Year Journey (in Black & White)

Marilyn Kott

Experience a little known side of Kosovo and her people by discovering their Catholic past and present. In this guide, you'll find locations, visiting hours, driving instructions, Mass and Feast Day schedules for 33 of Kosovo's Catholic churches and sites. You'll find background on their 1,900 year history, beginning with the 2nd century Christian evangelizers and converts in the thenRoman province Illyricum. You'll find stories from present day parishioners, who openly share their heritage and faith. More than 80 photographs, along with diagrams and contributions from 17 of Kosovo's Catholics will make you feel you're already there. Well researched and organized, enhanced with historical and religious background, this guide is for pilgrims and general travelers alike, and even for those who might not ever get to Kosovo. You'll be fascinated and moved by Catholic Kosovo.

Blue Guide Albania & Kosovo (Blue Guides)

James Pettifer

The 3rd edition with minor author amendments.

Albania – Kosovo – Montenegro 1:60,000 cross border hiking map HU

Huber Albania

This contoured, GPS compatible map at 1:60,000 covers a 192-km long cross-border hiking circuit in the mountains of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. The reverse provides detailed notes and route-profiles. The 10-day circuit which starts in Thethi in Albania, crosses the wildest and the most untouched mountain range in the Balkans, the Prokletije or the Albanian Alps.

The map provides a very vivid picture of the topography with contours at 50m intervals, enhanced by relief shading and colouring for woodlands. Boundaries of national parks and other protected areas are clearly marked. An overprint prominently highlights the course of the Peak of the Balkans long-distance hiking trail, indicating recommended overnight stops. Also marked are other waymarked routes, and symbols indicate accommodation, tourist information centres, viewpoints, climbing areas, etc. The map has both a 1-km UTM grid and latitude and longitude lines at 5' intervals. Map legend includes English and German alongside with local languages.

On the reverse are detailed stage-by-stage descriptions of the route, accompanied by route profiles and GPS waypoints for important locations including turnings or crossroads and accommodation facilities. All text is in English only.

The transnational "Peaks of the Balkans Trail" leads through one of the most remote and wild mountainous regions of the Western Balkans. By using shepherd paths and footways, the trail winds through high alpine mountains up to 2,300 metres above sea level and leads through wild mountain scenery, with a diversity of breathtaking landscapes, varying from green valleys to crystal-clear mountain lakes, waterfalls, rivers and remote picturesque mountain villages, in which time seems to have stopped. All in all a "hidden treasure" for nature lovers and hikers.

Kosovo: New Born

Doris Sieckmeyer, Jurgen Sieckmeyer

The Balkans is presented in a way that dispenses with all the usua lclichés in these magnifi cent coffee-table books by the Sieckmeyers, a husband and wife team.

City Maps Pristina Kosovo

James McFee

City Maps Pristina Kosovo is an easy to use small pocket book filled with all you need for your stay in the big city. Attractions, pubs, bars, restaurants, museums, convenience stores, clothing stores, shopping centers, marketplaces, police, emergency facilities are only some of the places you will find in this map. This collection of maps is up to date with the latest developments of the city as of 2017. We hope you let this map be part of yet another fun Pristina adventure :)

Exercise a high degree of caution; see also regional advisories.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

Northern Kosovo (see Advisory)

The level of tension remains elevated in the municipalities of Zvecan, Zubin Potok and Leposavic and the northern part of the city of Mitrovica. Protests, as well as political and inter-ethnic violence, may occur at any time. 

There is limited freedom of movement at the border crossings of Brnjak and Jarinje (also known as Gate 1 and Gate 31). Avoid travelling in these areas until the security situation improves. If required to travel in these areas, be vigilant, avoid crowds and demonstrations, and follow the advice of local authorities.

Political tension

Kosovo declared independence on February 17, 2008, and Canada recognized Kosovo on March 18, 2008. However, the Serbian government has not recognized Kosovo and continues to challenge the legality of its unilateral declaration of independence. Direct bilateral talks between Serbia and Kosovo began in March 2011 in Brussels, Belgium, under European Union mediation.

The United Nations (UN) agreed to the reconfiguration of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), and the European Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) started its mandate on December 9, 2008. The Kosovo Force (KFOR) led by NATO remains in Kosovo and continues to contribute toward maintaining a safe and secure environment.

Crime

Petty crime such as pickpocketing and purse snatching is prevalent. Foreigners could be targeted by thieves, especially in crowded public areas such as markets and public transportation facilities, particularly in Pristina. Carjacking and car theft also occur.

Should you see an unattended bag, suspicious device or anything out of the ordinary, you are advised to immediately report to the appropriate local authorities. The UN has advised its staff to check under and around their vehicles before they are driven.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.

Landmines and unexploded ordnance

International explosive ordnance disposal teams have cleared all major routes and population centres. They have marked remaining sites known to contain mines or other unexploded ordnance (UXO). However, unexploded landmines may remain along the Albania-Kosovo border. UXO, particularly cluster bombs, is a problem throughout rural areas, and can also be found in urban areas. Off-road travel and hiking in wooded areas can be dangerous. Exercise vigilance and avoid taking risks.

Road travel

Secondary roads are often narrow and poorly maintained.

Travel to Mitrovica North may be restricted and requires approval from UNMIK.

There have been incidents where police target vehicles with foreign plates, often demanding immediate cash payment for alleged traffic violations. If stopped, you should request a full explanation and, if an explanation is not forthcoming, request permission to speak to the Embassy of Canada to Croatia in Zagreb.

Public transportation

Public transportation is old and overcrowded. Periodic disruptions of bus service may occur. Rail services are generally poor. Use only officially marked taxis and negotiate fares in advance if a meter is not in use.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

General safety information

Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of cash.

Emergency services

Dial 92 for police, 93 for fire fighters, 94 for an ambulance and 987 for roadside assistance.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • This territory has not stated its yellow fever vaccination certificate requirements.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Southern Europe, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southern Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Southern Europe, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, leishmaniasis, Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that typically causes fever, bleeding under the skin, and pain. Risk is generally low for most travellers. It is spread to humans though contact with infected animal blood or bodily fluids, or from a tick bite. Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals. There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.


Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in Southern Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical care is not up to Western standards. Medical evacuation, which can be very expensive, may be necessary in the event of a serious illness or injury. Physicians and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

A serious violation of law may lead to a jail sentence, which will be served in local prisons.

Illegal activities

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Photography of military or police installations, vehicles and personnel is prohibited.

Homosexuality

Homosexuality is not widely accepted in Kosovo.

Driving laws

An International Driving Permit is recommended. Always carry identification and vehicle registration papers. Third-party automobile insurance is mandatory and can be purchased upon entry into Kosovo.

Drivers of vehicles bearing foreign licence plates must pay for compulsory third-party Green Card insurance.

Road tolls must be paid in local currency. Posted speed limits are strictly enforced.

Money

The currency used throughout Kosovo is the euro (EUR). The economy is largely cash-based. Automated banking machines (ABMs) are available in urban centres.

Climate

Kosovo is located in an active seismic zone.

Bush and forest fires are common between June and September, particularly in northern Kosovo. In case of a major fire, stay away from the affected area, follow the advice of local emergency services personnel, and monitor local media for up-to-date information. The air quality in areas near active fires may deteriorate due to heavy smoke and could affect travellers with respiratory ailments. For assistance, contact the Embassy of Canada to Croatia in Zagreb.

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